As cruisers, we learn to predict the weather in our home waters with relative ease: it becomes instinctive. In the summer cruising grounds your radius from home port is likely to be only 100 miles. You will probably stay within your local seasonal weather pattern. Cruising the ICW is quite different. If you watch the local TV weather forecast in the morning, its afternoon predictions will be practically worthless as by afternoon you will be 50-60 miles away. This morning’s weather center forecast for tomorrow morning will be different from the forecast at tonight’s anchorage. In short, you will get little help from watching TV weather stations. You must become proficient at using a variety of sources to make your own predictions. Today’s forecast for tomorrow must consider that tomorrow you will be starting out 50 miles from here and end the day 100 miles from here. As you head along the coast you must be looking at the weather here today and 50 miles ahead tomorrow and 100 miles ahead the day after. You learn to be looking several days ahead and along a continually moving track.
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Anchors– Anchor designs have evolved greatly over the centuries. The Danforth anchor was a breakthrough design in the early years of world war II: a lightweight anchor with superb holding capabilities. After the war, it became the standard anchor for small craft. Its one weakness is that the flukes may get jammed with a stone, stick, or quahog and it will not reset if a wind or current reversal pops the anchor out. The various plow and claw style anchors were developed to address that possible weakness. However, their ultimate holding power did not measure up to the light weight fluke style on a weight for weight basis. The spade type anchor. Rocna, Manson, Mantus, Ultra etc. appear to be the best of both worlds. Although diehard Danforth owners and their Fortress family are very happy with the performance of the fluke style anchor, the spade style anchors have a terrific reputation for coastal cruisers and are now the most frequently used on the ICW.
As we move into the summer boating season, it is time for to start preparing your boat for a trip southbound along the ICW. This trip is, for most first time ICW travelers, the longest continuous voyage they have made on their boat. While it is true that the trip along the ICW is merely a series of day trips, and so is not that difficult, it is also 30 day trips strung together. This will push the boat the systems and the crew to new limits.
Chasing Spring, 40 miles per day
Andy Warhol may have been a little wide of the mark when he famously said, “in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes,” but given the merciless advance of social media his words are starting to ring true. How else do you explain the rise to internet stardom of Tanner and Nikki, an unremarkable young couple from Colorado, who, despite never having set foot on a sailboat, decided to forsake the mountains for a life on the water?
We motored all day pretty uneventfully to Isla Isabella where I was quickly reminded why I’ve never liked this place—the anchorage is terrible. Coral and rocks on top of hard packed ground, with no sand in sight. I anchored three times, thought I had a decent hold, dove in to take a look and found the anchor lying on its side with the chain zigzagging through some rocks. Anchored again, found the anchor with a tiny bit of tip in the ground and a maze of big rocks in front of it. Decided that was it, we were going to eat some dinner and hit the road again.